Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Detroit Tigers - That's better!

All it takes is a little encouragement on my blog - and they win!!
Good job! Keep it going tonight.

Monday, July 30, 2007


What the heck?
This team was good. Now they are losing like there is no tomorrow. Thankfully Cleveland are too.
But now they are within striking distance - come ON!!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ed Debevic's, Chicago. Eat and Get Out.

Ed Debevics was the planned lunch place on our last full day there. We took the train to Millennium Park, and after visiting the Cultural Center, walked to Ed’s.

We asked for directions after the map got it completely wrong (or something); initially a guy in a city truck pointed us in the general direction, and told us it was about 15 minutes walk. After 15 minutes, I asked another passer by -he told us we should take a cab as it was at least 10 minutes in a cab. (Were people messing with me? Was it my Detroit Tigers shirt – the Tigers were in town to see the Sox?). Anyway, we made it eventually.

We walked in, and were promptly seated. “Are you guys really over here from Detroit?” our wonderful waitress bellowed, dressed in a 50’s shirt and leopard skin pants. We said yes. “I thought it smelt bad in here!! OK, whaddya want? Oh I betcha don’t know. Well don’t let me rush ya – I have all day” she said, eyeballs rolling towards the ceiling. She then threw some paper hats on the table, and wandered off. No order was taken.

See, that’s Ed Debevic’s. Eat and Get Out is the motto in this 50’s style diner. Rudeness is the order of the day. It’s all good clean abuse. And all very amusing.

She returned. “You still here? I guess ya want something to drink?” I asked for a beer. She looked at my family. “I can see why ya need one” she says.

“You need a haircut” she told my son. He was somewhat speechless.

We had regular food (got the order in eventually) – I had a burger, requested it medium “I guess so” she replied, obviously an inconvenience, (the burger, I must admit was outstanding), my wife had a turkey burger and the kids had some kid food. All pretty good.

An announcement came out over the PA. “Hey, I need to interrupt all ya lunches” the male voice boomed. “Not my fault. It’s that stupid girl over there has got her stupid birthday today” as he points at a laughing, blushing young lady. “Let’s all sing happy stupid birthday for stupid there and they you can all get on with your lunch”. So we did.

As we were eating, some James Brown came on the jukebox – which was then cranked up. The wait staff hopped up on the bar, shook their booties and danced along. All very, very different.

Our waitress then came back and threw various other insults at us; pretended to mess with my food, and done her best to annoy my son. Which included posing for a photo with him.

When she asked us were we done, and we said we were, she said. “Good. About time. Now pay and get out”. We did, and I genuinely thanked her.

We left laughing. We had good food and a lot of fun.

On the way out, another family, all sporting Detroit baseball gear were on the way in. I sure hope they had a sense of humor.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Chicago Cultural Center

All right. On day whatever it was in Chicago, we headed towards Ed Debevics for lunchy breach. That's lunch because you were too slack to make it out in time for breakfast even though you intended to - as distinct from brunch which is an intentional meal. More on that soon.

It turned out to be an interesting morning - we took the train to Millennium Park, and found ourselves at the Chicago Cultural Center. I've walked by there many times and never known what was in there - now I do, and I wished I'd gone there sooner. There is a lot of interesting stuff to see - granted, it may be more interesting to the kids in a few years time.

We were limited to the pics you see below - all the rest were not allowed - and I can see why. There were some really old tapestry stitchings there - flash photography might do some irreparable damage.

Anyway, I stuck to taking pics of the building itself - this place used to be the Chicago Public Library. the photos are average - but they show what the place is like.

Nice lights....

And nice floors

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Michael Vick - My thoughts.

So Michael Vick has pleaded not guilty to dog fighting charges. A surprise? Naah. Of course he is pleading not guilty. If he didn't do it, then he should plead not guilty, if he did do it, then he is not too bright (NFL guy earning a load of cash, and a million things to amuse him apart from one involving causing great pain to dogs), and maybe figures that he will get off.

Here's the thing. I hope that it was him. Because it was someone, and they have him. He is already indicted, and every person who is caught is one less cruel person free, and hopefully the powers that be have pinpointed one.

Naturally, if he is not guilty, then he must not be convicted. Wrong convictions are a double evil.

But if it was him, then he can be made a prime example. He needs to be sentenced to the full extent of the law.

My opinion only - he says he had no knowledge or involvement. He was in a house with 55 dogs, and some dog-fighting "contraptions". Now, be he directly involved or not, it would have been pretty hard for him not to at least be aware - and therefore allowing it to happen. Which, in my eyes is guilty. You don't let that kind of cruelty happen, least of all under your own roof.

I see the Falcons told him not to turn up to training camp. Surprised? Not now - they are running a business called Football, and they can do without all the bad publicity. If he clears his name - then that's another story - we will see.

/just my thoughts.

Dick's Last Resort Chicago - Beatles Brunch - The Cavern Beat

Sunday Morning in Chicago was fun – we caught the shuttle to Navy Pier, but this time, we walked the opposite direction. We were heading towards Dick’s Last Resort!

I had read all about this place – and we visited the one in Boston last year – so we were prepared for a fun time and lots of insults. We had fun, but the insults did not come – perhaps it was the mellow Sunday morning.

Dick’s on a Sunday morning features a Beatles Brunch – You can eat to the sound of The Cavern Beat, an early-era Beatles tribute band. More about this great bunch of lads later..

But first, the food!

The brunch was top notch. They had breakfast cereal, and a ton of fruit. And bagels and a load of cheese. And bacon, tons of it, sausages, gravy and the works. They could make you an omelet if you wished, with any number of fillings. Then, the –unch part of brunch – on offer was a mountain of big juicy shrimps, a huge platter of smoked salmon, breaded chicken, roast smoked turkey, ham, pasta, crab cakes, and lots of other things I can’t remember. So we feasted. Again and again! We got our money’s worth for sure.

And then I made an interesting discovery. I seen they had a chocolate fountain. Along side a marshmallow mountain, and a big bowl of the juiciest strawberries. And some angel cake, and chocolate éclairs. Cos you can always add chocolate to a chocolate éclair. When I relayed this news to the family, my son was so excited he fell off his chair! Really!

They also had a Bloody Mary bar, but I didn’t go there.

The food was amazing – I would highly recommend this place. The décor was fun, and our server was good – he brought us drinks. My daughter covered herself in chocolate – nice on a pink t-shirt.

And the band. The Cavern Beat. Easily the best sounding, most fun Beatles tribute band I’ve seen. What I really liked about them was their non-run-of-the-mill approach. Yes, they could have played all the crowd pleasing favorites, and done ok doing it, but they went for a nice mix of the well known songs, and other not-so well known songs like You’re Going to Lose That Girl, Kansas City, Baby’s in Black. Musically, these guys were tight as a knot. They were dressed like the beatles, right down to hairstyles. Heck, they even spoke in a scouse accent. “Paul” went so far as to have the full wide-opened look! Fabulous!

Stu, the band’s manager came over and chatted with us. He’s a nice guy – he was really proud of the band, and so he should be.

Bottom line is this – if you are ever in Chicago and it’s Sunday morning – check out Dick’s Last Resort. Bring your appetite, your wallet and your ears and you will leave the place happy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Stuff that bothers n Bugs me #3 – A-Hat Customers Whining For The Sake Of It

The Weber GrillChicago. As my account of the restaurant may well indicate, I like the place. Great service, good food, great atmosphere. Amazes me how some people can’t help themselves but complain.

We got in, me and herself went to the bar to get a have a well-earned drink (lots of walking). The kids pulled themselves up on the bar stools. The bartender comes over, takes our order, and very politely informs me that children are not allowed at the bar – it’s fine if they just stand behind us – they just cant be leaning on the bar. No problem – that’s the rules. So the kids backed off – everyone was happy.

Just about then, another family walked to the bar – exact same process – bartender told the parent that their kids would have to move. They did.

Anway, just as their (and simultaneously our) tables were ready, the mom took it on herself to inform the bartender that down the way a bit a child was on a barstool, and had been there “since we arrived”. She then proceeded to ask why they were treated badly (i.e. their kids were not allowed to sit at a smoky bar), when someone else’s kid was allowed to. She was really quite arrogant about it all – and totally unnecessarily so.

Obviously she assumed the bartender had nothing better to do than watch for kids climbing bar stools, and that he had something against her kids. As it happened, her daughter and my daughter hit it off quite well while NOT at the bar.

The bartender, being the professional he was, acted courteously, and apologized to her, explaining that if he would have seen the child, he would have acted, as it is not a house rule – it’s a city law. She then backed down.

It just bugged me – she had no need to be annoyed with the bartender about something that had absolutely nothing to do with her. People like that are self-important attention seekers – I think her integrity was inversely proportional to her diamond ring size.

The Weber Grill Restaurant, Chicago, IL.

On the first night in Chicago, we visited the Weber Grill - I had wanted to try this place, but this was unplanned - we were hungry and walking and just happened upon the place.

Weber, of course, make barbecue grills - I own a charcoal one, so I though it a good idea to chick out how they do it right and in large quantities. I was impressed!

We started out at the bar - the kids could not sit right up there - no problems.. they stood with us (another story about that coming up) - good service - nice Goose Island beer and stuff.

The service here was great - our server was knowledgeable, friendly, well prepared with all the knowledge we needed, (also whispered to us about the inclusion of desert with the kids meals - nice touch - let us decide if the kids get desert).

And the food - granted we were hungry - I had beer can chicken - because I never had that before - and it was delicious!! She had grilled garlic shrimp skewers - succulent, properly cooked and also delicious. The whole lot was great!! The kids had kid cheeze burgers - nothing was left over so I guess all was good there.

Desert for us was another beer and a sparkling mimosa sangria (apparently the fruit in it had been soaked in rum for hours); the kids had their included sundaes.

Over all, highly recommended - we will be back and I will try something else... for now, here are a couple of pics...

Apparently these guys use 1 ton of charcoal a day!!

With the open kitchen, you can see how they cook your food, and also how they don't mess with it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Kwik-E-Mart - Chicago, Ilinois - LIFE SIZE SIMPSONS!!!

The final stop on our weekend was at the Kwik-E-Mart, located at....

6754 W. 63rd Street
Chicago, IL 60638

This "former" 7-11 was totally transformed, to fit in to the hype that is the upcoming Simpsons Movie. Right down to the sign outside it:

Marge was on the way out on the way in:

Mmmmmmm. Donuts.

Buzz Cola - Was this in any episodes? And where's theDuff???

Of course, Homer was there... eating.

Could not be a Kwik-E-Mart without Apu

Friday, July 20, 2007

Day 1 of our mini-vacation – on the way to Chicago.

Well the trip was pretty uneventful – I-94 tends to be that way. We eventually hit the road around 8:30am, saying bye to our doggie, who was off to spend a few days with her favorite pit bull friend.

We kept going until we got to Jackson, which was our first bathroom break. Here I learned a little history – see below.

For some reason I really like these Michigan Historical Society boards.

And onwards. Traffic was great until we had to pay to drive on the stupid Indiana skyway – we sat for a solid hour going nowhere. See below for some stunningly interesting images of our view.

Isn't Indiana wonderful???

No worries - we got outta that jam as soon as we got through the tool both - (here's our cash for delaying us) - and into Illinois... some pics along the road now...

I'm not sure what the above building is - but it looked good.

The traffic getting into Chicago got a bit heavy - they seem to be looking for roads to dig up all the time.

Anyway, we made it to out hotel with ease. The Hyatt Regency in McCormick Place. Entire trip took us about 5 hours - not too bad really.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Island Lake State Park, Michigan.

We wanted to make it 2 state parks in a row, so last Sunday, we went, and took our neighbor's kids to Island Lake.

Nice park - more in a while.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Maybury State Park, Michigan

Last Sunday, we visited Maybury State Park. I’ve seen signs for it for a long time and thought it was about time to give it a go. As ever Mich DNR did not let us down.

It’s on the site of an old sanatorium – a place where people with TB were quarantined, treated and kept until well. Apparently the pathways and paved trails were originally roads on the huge facility. It closed in 1969 when, thankfully the illnesses that it treated had declined. Here and there, there are little signs telling bits of history about the place. Real interesting! There is a huge amount more information about the place at http://www.mayburysanatorium.com/. For some reason, places like that fascinate me.

Anyway, the day was great – the park is really nice, great hiking trails, streams, horses (which we did not ride, apparently they don’t do dog saddles), and fishing.

The majority of the pics we took had people in them, and those don’t get posted. So here are a couple without...